Skip to content

Cupping for Pain Relief and Natural Healing

From the Desk of Dr. Lisette Miller, DC

What is Cupping?


Traditional Chinese Medicine encompasses various forms of ancient healing techniques. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, moxibustion, and Gua Sha are a few examples that would fall under this category. Another example of Traditional Chinese Medicine is a myofascial decompression technique known as Cupping.

Cupping is a method of healing involving suction of the skin, muscle, fascia, and blood vessels on specific meridians or affected regions of the body. This technique traces back to the early fourth century when hollowed out animal horns were placed on certain areas of the body to initiate the healing process.

Today, cupping has evolved to utilizing glass or plastic “cups” that allow a varying degree of suction to a particular acupoint, meridian, muscle, or trigger point. Cupping works is applied to the skin and works within the soft tissue by drawing toxins up and out of the body.

Most Acupuncturists and some Massage Therapists, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists pursued extra training to utilize cupping into myofascial release protocols to help alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, improve biomechanical movement patterns, and improve circulation.

What does it feel like?

Cupping often feels similar to a deep tissue massage. You may even think of it as a “reverse” massage because instead of pushing down on the skin into the muscles cupping pulls up on the muscles through the skin. This lifting effect is what ultimately decompresses and releases congestion to relieve tight muscles, repair soft tissue, and minimize pain.

This technique works well for relieving sore muscles, chronic stiffness, postural tension, and breaking up scar tissue. Generally speaking cupping is relaxing and enjoyable way to rid the muscles of pain and inflammation. Most patients enjoy their cupping sessions and are very relaxed during treatment.

A typical session can last anywhere from 15-30 minutes depending on the level of injury and number of muscles affected.

Treatment is comfortable and relief can be immediate in most cases. While the tightness and spasms are being gently pulled up and out of the soft tissue it is being replaced with healthy, healing, and oxygenated blood.

What are the possible side effects?

Acupuncture and Cupping are similar in many ways. They both aim to remove blockages of blood and qi (vital energy) that may be causing deficiencies elsewhere in the body. In addition, they both enhance blood flow, improve immunity, detoxify the body, and reduce pain associated with tight muscles, wear and tear, postural stress, and a variety of other ailments.

The difference is the application. Although many patients enjoy acupuncture and feel extremely relaxed during treatments, there are some people who would prefer cupping because it requires no needles! Whereas acupuncture typically leaves no marks Cupping, because of the suction, leaves a circular red or purple bruise that can last from about a week up to 2 weeks. In some cases, significant bruising or blisters may be present but this does not happen often.

Is Cupping for me?

Pain is the most obvious indication that you may benefit from any form of traditional Chinese medicine treatment. Cupping specifically targets tight and stiff muscles, general aches and pains, postural stress, pulled or injured muscles, and tension headaches. It may be helpful for other conditions such as shoulder injuries, bronchitis, asthma, fibromyalgia, sciatica, and piriformis syndrome.

Athletes tend to particularly benefit from cupping because of the rejuvenation effects each treatment provides. It flushes out all of the toxins in the worn out muscles and quickly restores optimal circulation and range of motion leading to better athletic performance. Cupping is a safe, effective, and all natural technique that may help you manage your pain!

Cupping is performed at First State Health & Wellness—Brandywine, Newark, Rehoboth and Wilmington locations.

Dr. Lisette Miller

Doctor of Chiropractic and NBCE board-certified acupuncture provider

First State Health & Wellness—Brandywine

1 Join the Conversation

  1. Dee Cairo says
    Aug 15, 2016 at 9:48 PM

    I first had cupping done in 1990 by a Chinese Doctor who also specialized in herbal medicine and acupuncture as well. After trying many traditional therapies to relieve pain...I was skeptical but willing. To say my results were amazing is an understatement! Since then I have continued to use a variety of methodologies to reduce pain and to better my over all health; many of which I found through First State Health & Wellness. I highly encourage anyone & everyone who has a desire to live a better life, with better health to visit the great people at First State Health & Wellness!

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.